Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Chicago Municipal Tyranny Explained: My Newsstand in 1965…by Robert M. Katzman

Chicago Municipal Tyranny Explained: My Newsstand in 1965 

by Robert M. Katzman ©  August 1, 2017

There was a situation I first encountered when I opened my wooden newsstand August 21,1965 in Hyde Park, 52 years ago: Permission to issue permits to open a newsstand were delegated by the City to the four major newspapers in order to receive a newsstand permit for a particular corner in Chicago. Period.  But the main two asses to kiss were the conservative Chicago Tribune and the Liberal Chicago Sun-Times.

However, there were really only two City newspaper corporations, because the Tribune owned the Chicago American and the Sun-Times owned the Chicago Daily News. Both had to approve of you. Whatever running around by me was necessary, I needed four recognizable signatures on a yellow postcard-sized piece of stiff paper if my teenaged dreams of self-employment were to be realized.

Each newspaper assigned a certain medieval person called a “Division Boss” to decide whether a person was sufficiently worthy to receive their blessings for whatever area was under their control.  Direct contact with the newspapers’ business administration office was impossible.

(Read on …)

Audrey, Pink Bunny Slippers, Her Cat, and the God’s Eye…by Robert M. Katzman

By Robert M. Katzman © May 18, 2017

(a podcast of this story I read on 91.1 FM, WGTD Kenosha, Wis NPR a week earlier courtesy of the warm and kind people of the Kenosha Writers Guild, especially Dave Gourdoux, has a link at the end of this posting.)

 

I was reading an online obituary page a while ago, and saw that Audrey, my Audrey, by then 86, had died.

It sent a shiver through me and I glanced over at the God’s Eye I’ve kept with me wherever I’ve moved over the past half century. It rests about five feet away from me. Intricately woven multi-colored yarn with fine detail in a Native American style, using three foot-long slender branches tied together in the shape of a six-pointed star.

It is a spiritual and ritual object thought to have magical powers by the ancient Pueblo tribes in the Southwest.

It is thought to possess the power to be able to see and understand that which an ordinary person cannot see.

Audrey, I thought to myself, now you’re really gone from me, aren’t you?

The pain within me was so real, so deep. She was someone I would often go see in Shabby Town, when I needed to remind myself that whatever else was wrong with me, with my life, a woman with fine qualities like Audrey–and Jesus, man–so beautiful, too, who was willing to give me a second look, well, ok, a lot more than a second look, then…maybe I had something valuable about me that she wanted, too, if only for a moment in time.

Audrey, Audrey, that picture of you, that little old lady scrunched up in a hospital bed, why had that newspaper or whatever online things are called now…no idea about how incredible you once were? What you were really like, so long ago. The smile that radiated from your big brown eyes, and your soft wide mouth?

So kissable a mouth. Soft lips, Audrey, you had such soft lips…soft everything.

(Read on …)

Katherine Evans (1964)…by Robert M. Katzman

 

This is not a story about sex, or passion, or violence, or triumph and vindication.

It’s not a story about bravery, or adversity—well, maybe adversity, but not like

being trapped on Mount Everest in a howling blizzard.

 

It’s just a little story about a sweet moment, frozen in the amber of my memory.

A fleeting act of kindness and self-discovery, in 1964.

 

Katherine Evans was a classmate of mine in grammar school for a number of

years, beginning, maybe, in second grade until eighth grade and graduation.

We weren’t friends. I didn’t know her. I didn’t know her family or anything

about her.

(Read on …)

Am I My Sister’s Keeper?…by Robert M. Katzman (written in 2004)


Am I My Sister’s Keeper? 

by Robert M. Katzman Copyright 2004

(First, this note. I am my Father’s son. But he was the son of Eastern European immigrants, people who fled from Jewish genocide in the Russian Czar’s Pale. They were terrified defenseless people.  Their son Israel (1912-2000), however, grew up in the dangerous West Side of Chicago’s gangs in the Thirties who fought with the Polish and Irish gangs to hold their turf. Then he spent three and a half years in the Pacific fighting the Japanese with General MacArthur, getting wounded but determined to stay in the fight. He was NOT a terrified Jew. An American who was very different than his parents, and who transferred that sense of justice and defiance to me in his many stories over my younger years. In many ways, I became an extension of him, of what he believed. Of what his sense of justice was. I never dreamed that connection would lead to this story. Welcome to my very strange world, reader.  Believe it.)

 

In the winter of ’79 I received an unusual call from my father, Israel, who was living at that time in Sherman Oaks, California. My home was just south of Chicago.

My Dad was very distressed, I could hear it in his voice, because my older sister, Bonnie, had called him, in tears, he said because some foreign creep was stalking her at the school where she was a teacher. She was five months pregnant at the time with her first child, and the unnerving situation, my father told me, was only adding to her distress.

(Read on …)

Sometimes the Phoenix Burns………. Sometimes the Phoenix Returns…………by Robert M. Katzman

Sometimes the Phoenix Burns

Sometimes the Phoenix Returns

by Robert M. Katzman, October 3, 2016

(in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.)

On a grey drizzly Rosh Hashanah morning, I was sitting on my squeaking old cedar swing in Racine, Wisconsin, where Jews seem to be an endangered species. Just sitting still, staring at this massive brick fireplace I built out of heavy reddish paving bricks during my long winter without Joyce. Her illness kept her away from our home for months. I wanted to build something permanent, something that would stay with me. I decided to build a fire.

(Read on …)

Bribing a Chicago Judge with a Sawbuck…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Cops,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Humor,Jewish Themes,My Own Personal Hell,Politics — Bob at 6:37 am on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bribing a Chicago Judge with a Sawbuck

By Robert M. Katzman

Copyright © January 2, 2014

 

In the spring of 1965, in Hyde Park, an area seven miles south of Chicago’s central Downtown area and home of the University of Chicago and jazz, my father, Irving, felt it was time to explain corruption in the Chicago Machine and teach me the basics.

I was fifteen, and if you can imagine the setting, we’re in our small apartment sitting on either side of the scarred kitchen table. I was listening and playing with the salt and pepper shakers at the same time. He may as well have been explaining etiquette customs on Mars to me. I had no clue about what he was going to say.

(Read on …)

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